In 2019, a relatively unknown Cebu squad led by Oliver Colina stunned the Manila football scene after outclassing BGC to win the first AIA Vitality Kampeon Cup.
Three years later, with all eyes on them as the defending champion, the coach known as Bingbing in the Cebu football community again put Cebu in the pedestal, leading a different set of players to a second straight title, this time in football-hotbed Bacolod City over the weekend.
It beat BGC anew in the finals to retain the crown.
In day 1, Cebu met the former finalist in the elimination round and said hello from the other side of a 3-1 beating. The wily Josh Asignar broke the ice in the 12th before Josh Tanay made it 2-0 nine minutes later. MJ Libre got one for BGC in the 28th before Luis Garciano got an insurance goal in the 49th to seal the win.
“I’m very happy with the players. I’m very proud that even if I was in Manila, they did well in trainings and scrimmages,” said Colina. “All the teams were very tough but the players showed their discipline in attacking and defending.”
In Day 2, Cebu showed that discipline as it after finding itself 2-0 down after just six minutes. However, John Clyde Vitualla introduced himself to the field in spectacular fashion, scoring a hat-trick for Cebu’s 9-4 comeback win. Vitualla got his first in the ninth and Garciano got the equalizer a minute later. Guest player David Kouame and Andre Sabeson made it 4-2 before Robles got Iloilo to 4-3 in the 24th.
But that was the closest Iloilo could get as scored four in a 10-minute span to break away and set up a semis meeting with the host.
Cebu showed its offensive prowess against the host as four different players, including eventual MVP Vitualla, scored a goal each in their 4-1 win to set up a meeting anew with BGC.
This time, BGC was intent on ending up the winners and controlled the pace in the first half.
“Actually in the first half, they were dominating because we lacked intensity but we were able to adjust in the second half,” said Colina.
Colina also credited his wingers and said their speed and skills in transition was their main weapon.
That was made evident in the final when Hayato Fukui made it 1-0 in the 36th and Vitualla doubled the lead nine minutes later. BGC got a late goal but Cebu held on to the score.
Aside from his attackers, Colina also lauded the leadership and skills of Leonard Tan, who was named the best keeper, and the contribution of guest player Kuame.
“We also had veterans on defense. The team was a mixed of young players and experienced ones,” said Colina, who is now back in Manila handling Forza.
The other members of the squad were Andei Sabejon, John Jamel, Jaire Tanjay, Christian Gomez, Reymar Cubon, and Ekundayo Andrew.